Thursday, January 16, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Homebuilders Remained Confident in January on Rising U.S. Sales
Confidence among U.S. homebuilders held in January near its highest level in eight years, indicating the residential real-estate market will continue to contribute to economic growth in 2014.
Market Watch | Philly Fed manufacturing index improves in January
A reading of manufacturing sentiment in the Philadelphia area picked up in January, according to data released Thursday, becoming the second regional index to show solid growth at the beginning of the year.
CNN Money | Energy boom's impact on national security
Acknowledging that the boom is creating jobs and decreasing the need for oil imports, the boom could also lead to increasing instability in some U.S. allies, cause some African nations and Russia to strengthen ties with China, and provoke the Chinese and Russians to become more aggressive.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Why So Many Poor Can't Improve Their Lot: We Need To Look At Unequal Distribution Of Economic Freedom
While the church and Christian moralists have always spoken about the rich and the poor, and condemned those who put wealth, or anything else, above eternal life, it was only in the 20th century when church authorities began to make frequent empirical statements about the number of rich and poor. Pope Francis is the latest example.
Market Watch | This is the year to sell your home
Patience seems to have paid off for those who’ve postponed putting their homes on the market until this year, real estate analysts say. They stand to pocket the kind of profits not seen since the housing boom.
WSJ | How Big Government Drives Inequality
Inequality is the wedge issue that Democrats hope will carry them through the 2014 and 2016 elections, neutralizing the ObamaCare fiasco. The issue has popular appeal because median incomes (after inflation) have been falling throughout the recovery, while high-end incomes are increasing rapidly.
Real Clear Markets | Three Ways We Can Improve the Economy In 2014
An improving economy and a fiscal truce together signal the possibility of making progress on at least some of the economic challenges facing the United States. Don't expect a grand bargain with entitlement changes to address the structural fiscal imbalance, or a pro-growth tax reform aimed at putting the U.S. economy back onto a permanently better trajectory.
Fortune | Brazil's economic trap
Brazil is in a bind. It has a wealth of natural resources and is among the most powerful industrial producers in the world, but the nation's economic growth hinges on skilled workers it doesn't have.
NBER | Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure
Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the March Current Population Survey, we calculate historical poverty estimates based on the new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) from 1967 to 2012.

WSJ | Where Are the U.S.’s Millionaires?
The state making the fastest climb up the millionaire rankings doesn’t have a single Tiffany or Saks Fifth Avenue store. The closest BMW dealership is a six-hour drive from the capital.
CATO | What to Look for in the Upcoming Trade Policy Debate
The most important piece of trade legislation Congress has dealt with in years was introduced in the House and Senate last week. The “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014” sets out the parameters for renewing trade promotion authority (TPA), originally known as “fast track,” in order to ease eventual passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other agreements through Congress. There will be a lot of debate in the coming months about what U.S. trade policy should look like, and this TPA bill will do a lot to establish the agenda.
Heritage Foundation | Guess What Group is Getting Food Stamps at an Alarming Rate
Food stamp rolls have been growing rapidly. But what many may not realize is that participation among able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) has been skyrocketing compared to the total number of participants.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Obamacare's impact on health innovation is still unclear
The Affordable Care Act has been the subject of a wide variety of sometimes heated debates on death panels, plan cancellations, presidential lies, government overreach, network depth and the question of whether members of Congress should read bills before voting on them, or just pass them to discover what's in them.
CATO | More Woes Are Ahead for the ACA
Even setting aside the debacle surrounding the rollout of, last fall was a bad time for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Bloomberg | ECB Said to Favor 6% Capital Requirement in Stress Test
The European Central Bank favors requiring banks to show their capital won’t fall below 6 percent of their assets when it puts them through a simulated recession later this year, said two euro-area officials with knowledge of the matter.
National Journal | Bernanke's Long Goodbye
The topic of his remarks, "The Fed Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," at the launch of the new Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, will give the Fed chairman one last chance to defend his tumultuous years at the central bank through the substantial megaphone unique to the Fed chairmanship.
Reuters | Consumer prices post largest gain in six months
U.S. consumer prices recorded their largest increase in six months in December as gasoline prices rebounded, but there was little to suggest a broader pick-up in prices with underlying inflation muted.


NBC4 | Government Shut Down Delays Start of 2014 Tax Season
The IRS is not accepting personal income tax returns until January 31 because of government shutdown. The agency says the shutdown delayed the implementation of new tax laws in the processing system.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Who Will Tax Bitcoin And How?
Will 2014 be the year we trade in our credit cards and abandon our wallets in favor of virtual currencies? If you follow the recent hype surrounding bitcoin, the trendiest of the new crop of digital currencies, you could be swayed into thinking that good, old-fashioned cash was going the way of the dinosaur.


National Journal | The 5 Most and Least Generous States for Unemployment Insurance
Congress isn't any closer to extending unemployment insurance for Americans who have been out of work for over 26 weeks. Still, millions of people actively searching for jobs still depend on the funds from their respective states.
Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall to Lowest in More Than a Month
Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the labor market continues to strengthen.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Will a higher minimum wage really reduce income inequality?
Raising the federal minimum wage could help bring many low-wage workers above the poverty line. It also could help restore the value of the minimum wage, which hasn't kept pace with inflation over the past 40 years. But can it really address income inequality?

Library of Economics | Is Losing Your Job in Your Economic Self-Interest?
"Fear is Why Workers in Red States Vote Against Their Economic Self-Interest" is the title Robert Reich gives yesterday's post on his site. Reich starts by addressing why no one in West Virginia complained [I'm taking his word for it that no one complained, although I'm not sure how he knows] about dangerous chemicals getting into the water supply.


Politico | Harry Reid, Jack Lew differ on debt limit timing
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Thursday that Congress should raise the debt limit by the end of February and not wait until early March to avoid any complications arising from the flow of revenue into the government’s coffers due to tax-filing season.
Bloomberg | Shrinking U.S. Budget Deficit Is ‘Credit Positive,’ Moody’s Says
The Treasury’s bookkeeping “indicates that the federal deficit is falling more quickly than the government expected, a credit positive development,” Steven Hess, Moody’s New York-based lead sovereign analyst for the U.S., wrote today in a report. “Because GDP growth has been accelerating, the deficit as a percent of GDP is likely to be declining even more quickly.”